Archive for the ‘THEATRE’ Category

“Love Never Dies”–a touring company review   Leave a comment

In January 2018 “The Phantom of the Opera” will start its 30thyear playing to sold out crowds on Broadway and in February 2018 it will celebrate its 27th year as the opening show for the debut of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Last night the sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera”, called “Love Never Dies”, had its performance for the first time in South Florida at the same Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale.

We are reunited with Christine, her lover, now husband, Raoul, The Phantom along with others from the original show plus, new to the story, Christine’s 9 year old son Gustave.

The Phantom lives in Coney Island, New York, in 1907 and Christine, now one of the world’s best opera singers, has been invited to sing in Manhattan. The Phantom lures her, Raoul, who has gambled and drank their money away, and their son to the wondrous world of the exciting Coney Island. We are very quickly thrown into the world of one of the most famous triangle love stories ever told.

The music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and Charles Hart, has written some beautiful numbers, including the title tune and “Till I Hear You Sing”, though not as quite as memorable as those from the original show.

The production values from costumes and scenic designs by Gabriela Tylesova to the lighting by Nick Schlieper, the choreography by Graeme Murphy and sound by Mick Potter all add up to a first rate setting. The set is constantly changing and the roundtable never seems to stop.

Starting with the first number, the aforementioned “Till I Hear You Sing”, sung by the Phantom, played by Gardar Thor Cortes the audience knows they are in for a treat as his voice expresses the thoughts of a man in pain yearning for the woman he loved and lost. Sean Thompson is a handsome Raoul with a voice that matches Cortes and/or any other of the cast members that he sings with in duos, trios, quartets or ensemble numbers. Mary Michael Patterson, as Meg, delivers the goods as an actress and singer, quite enjoyable but didn’t seem quite sure of her dancing. Karen Mason as Madame Giry is dressed to look like Mrs. Danvers in “Rebecca” which doesn’t distract from her bringing the first act to a powerhouse close with “Ten Long Years”. A really delightful surprise was Casey Lyons as the 9 year old Gustave playing his role and singing with a lot of confidence.

Christine, ah Christine, from her first entrance on stage and her song it is obvious that Mehan Picerno will own the role and take us on the journey she is on in “Love Never Dies”. It is when she sings that song near the end of the second act that her amazing talent is brought to the front and one wishes the songwriting team had written another solo or two for her.

“Love Never Dies” stands on its own as a musical with the vocal talents alone, along with the impressive sets, but if compared to “The Phantom of the Opera” it would be found lacking which shouldn’t deter from seeing this show in Fort Lauderdale or when it comes to your town.

Running time: 2 hours and 26 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.


“Till I Hear You Sing” from “Love Never Dies”


Posted November 8, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE, THEATRE REVIEW, Uncategorized

“The Sound of Music”–theatre review–Excellent cast & production   1 comment

soundofmusic ad

Rodgers & Hammerstein wrote 12 shows together with one originally for television, another for the movies and the rest for the stage of which 5 of the latter became classics of the Broadway theatre and, of those, “Sound of Music” had the most hit songs which included the title tune plus “My Favorite Things”, “Edelweiss”, “Do-Re-Mi”, “Climb Every Mountain”, “So Long, Farewell”, “Maria” are  just some of the 20 songs they wrote for the show.

This November the show will celebrate its 58th year since opening on Broadway and just by seeing the show at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale last night you can understand why the crowd welcomed it so enthusiastically. Having seen the original production a couple of times, the movie version an unaccountable number of showings, the recent television ‘live’ version plus the national tour just a year and nine months ago when it stopped in Miami, it was like welcoming an old friend combined with meeting a new one due to some major cast changes.

While the musical may be familiar with the story of Maria, a postulant, sent to be a governess to the seven children of widowed Captain von Trapp, falling in love with the children and the Captain and their falling in love with Maria, there is still a gasp, and sigh, from the audience when the Captain and Maria kiss for the first time. With the story taking place when the Nazis are taking over Austria there is also the time you hold your breath when the family is trying to escape while wondering if Rolf, the boy falling in love with Liesi von Trapp, will, as a ‘good Nazi’, give the von Trapps hiding place away.

With 15 of the cast of 31 making their national company touring debut all of the cast are giving first rate performances with—pardon the pun—not one bad note you couldn’t ask for a better production.

Jill-Christine Wiley is perfection as Maria and convincing as the postulant, governess and wife as we watch her grow from the first to the last. Her voice soars when needed and can bring a tear to your eyes the next minute. With a cast of powerhouse voices the first and last notes you hear are sung by Lauren Kidwell as the Mother Abbess and her singing of “Climb Every Mountain” will make you hold your breath and then cheer as she finishes it.

Though he doesn’t get too many chances to use it Mike McLean as Captain von Trapp has a voice of the leading man he is and the bearing of a Captain. Issac Ryckeghem as his butler, Stephanie Gray as the housekeeper, Melissa McKamie as a potential love interest for the Captain and Jake Mills as the Captain’s friend and agent all define what supporting player means.

The Trapp children, along with Chad P. Campbell as a suitor of the eldest Trapp girl, are absolutely charming and do everything that is asked of them and they are: Keslie Ward, Landon Brimacomb, Maya Karp, Arick Brooks, Katie Grgecic, Amaryllis C. Miller and Madeleine Guilbot.

Every aspect of this production, from the orchestra under the direction of Michael Uselmann to the set and costume designs, the lighting and sound effects make this production of “The Sound of Music” one to see whether you have seen 20 productions before or the movie or the television versions or will be seeing it for the first time. It defines the best of a Broadway musical classic.


Running time is 2 hours and 20 minutes plus a 20 minute intermission. It will be playing at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale until October 22. Call 954-462-0222 or go to for tickets


Posted October 11, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE, THEATRE REVIEW, Uncategorized

I got myself a 2018 New Year’s present now   Leave a comment

Chita and Tommy collage

Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune “Two for the Road” at the Parker Playhouse January 19, 2018

 She is 84–he is 78 and who knows when/if we’ll get a chance to see either again. I love the Parker Playhouse and even in the last row the acoustics and sightlines are perfect–the tickets range from $43-$173 –okay I wanted to get the $173 but Allen and Anthony outvoted me so we got the $58 which is fine. Tickets went on sale today and half the house is sold so far.

If you go to the box office tell Leland I sent you. No, I won’t get anything but he is one of the best at customer service!

Broadway legends Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune will hit the road this fall in a new concert act entitled Chita & Tune—Two for the Road. “I am thrilled to be joining my dear friend, the incomparable Tommy Tune on this concert tour,” said Rivera in a statement. “When we performed together in my benefit concert for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in 2013, we knew then that we had something special.” Tune added, “I love Chita Rivera. This is a dream come true!”

Chita Rivera has won two Tony Awards as Best Leading Actress in a Musical and received eight additional Tony nominations. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in West Side Story, Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry’s Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), The Visit, and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven, and Mr. Wonderful. She was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009 by President Barack Obama. In 2002 she received the Kennedy Center Honors, becoming the first Hispanic woman ever chosen to receive this award.

Tommy Tune has been honored with 10 Tony Awards recognizing him as an outstanding performer, choreographer, and director: Best Actor in a Musical for My One and Only; Best Featured Actor in a Musical for Seesaw; Best Choreography for A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine, My One and Only, Grand Hotel, and The Will Rogers Follies; and Best Direction of a Musical for Nine, Grand Hotel,and The Will Rogers Follies. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. 



Chita in 2 roles she originated on Broadway: Anita in West Side Story and Thelma in Chicago

Tommy Tune tapping up a storm “Putting on the Ritz”

I am spending the evening with Peter Pan!   Leave a comment

The last Broadway touring show of the 2016-2017 season, “Finding Neverland”, the story about playwright J.M. Barrie and the family that inspried Peter Pan, opens this evening at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts in Fort Lauderdale and I’ll be there!

“Mamma Mia”–Farewell Tour Review   Leave a comment



Looking for about 2 hours and 20 minutes of living a fairy tale on a bright sunny Greek island and dancing, singing the time away? “Mamma Mia” is the answer to any blues you might have.

The book of this musical by Catherine Johnson is light weight but the songs by ABBA, the choreography by Anthony Van Laast  offers laughs, not to forget a bunch of finely chiseled bodies wearing wet suits and flippers dancing around and a director Phyllida Lloyd who gets all the laughs and even a tear that the show can offer.


With all this it is the music that will have you moving in your seat with the conductor Kevin Casey and his orchestra along with the sound designed by Andrew Bruce and Bobby Aitken plus the lighting by Howard Harrison along with some of the most outlandish 1970s disco costumes by Ron Glow inside the production designed by Mark Thompson helping it all along.


Whether you are familiar with the songs composed by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus along with Stig Anderson, and this audience was more than familiar with them, you will feel right at home with “Dancing Queen”, “Money, Money, Money”, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”, “Thank You For The Music”, “The Winner Takes It All” with 16 others.


For the few who haven’t seen the show “Mamma Mia” is about Sophie (Lizzie Markson) who is marrying Sky (Dustin Harris Smith) and after secretly reading single mom’s (Betsy Padamonsky) diary she discovers her father could be one of 3 men; Sam (Shai Yammanee) an American architect, Bill (Marc Cornes) a Swedish writer and Harry (Andrew Tebo)      a British banker, and without telling Donna, Sophie invites them to the wedding while Donna has invited her old friends Tanya (Cashelle Butler)       and Rosie (Sarah Smith) who entertained as a singing trio 21 years previously.


All the leads are strong singers with Padamonsky and Yammanee having a bit of an edge mainly because of the songs they get to sing while Cornes and Smith do a very funny duet. They are backed up by a singing, dancing, acting ensemble that made the performance feel fresh, not a single performer on stage was phoning it in.


SPOILER: For those of you who run up the aisle as soon as the cast start taking their bows don’t as you will miss THE best part of “Mamma Mia” and which, since 1999, has helped make the show a long running success in over 23 countries including 14 years on Broadway.


Running time 2 hours and 30 minutes with a 20 minute intermission.


Check out  for the schedule of the tour.

Posted May 20, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE, THEATRE REVIEW


Gateway Theatre Collage

I remember when I lived in Miami Beach in the 1950s and a group of us would go up to Fort Lauderdale to ‘spend a day in the country’. It wasn’t until the Spring Break started coming in mobs that the strip around A1A and Los Olas Boulevard became THE place, especially the Elbo Room where wet t-shirt contests became famous.

We would spend time on the beach; get a bite to eat and then head into ‘town’ and go to the Gateway Theatre to see a movie. I do remember seeing “Where The Boys Are” when it had its premiere there.

I left Florida in the mid 1960s and returned to live in Fort Lauderdale in 1979 and since then I have seen at least 45, if not more, movies every year there. I don’t know when it became a 4 auditorium movie house or became the only ‘art’ theatre in Broward County, though there are a few more now, but it is still my choice of a movie theatre to go to.

The choices of movies goes from classics, to independent movies, gay films, festivals, foreign films, documentaries and let’s not forget “The Rocky Horror Show” 3 Saturdays a month.

Recently renovated with new seats, floors, they still have the comments board, which can be as much fun reading as seeing the movies!

The Classic Gateway Theatre may have the best of retro feeling but it is as modern as that huge complex you go to without the friendly smiles (yes, Ray does smile!) you get here.

Chances are if it is a Friday you can see me at the Gateway! 


 Looking around the Gateway Theatre

Posted May 17, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE

“The King and I”–Touring Company Review   Leave a comment

There is one word to describe the tour of “The King and I” that opened at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County last night and the word is perfect.

From the opening scene on the deck of the Chow Phyaarriving at the docks of Bankok and Anna (Laura Michelle Kelly) singing “I Whistle a Happy Tune” to Anna and the King (Jose Llana) singing “Shall We Dance” in the King’s study you couldn’t ask for a better score for a musical nor for it to be better sung than by the aforementioned plus the other 35 members of the cast.

The sets by Michael Yeargan, the costumes from Anna’s dresses to the Royal Children’s outfit by Catherine Zuber, to the lighting of Donald Holder along with a sound system by Scott Lehrer that allows you to hear every word along with choreography by Christopher Gattelli, based on the original by Jerome Robbins, not the forget the director Barlett Sher and add to this an 18 piece orchestra conducted by Gerlad Steichen and you have a magical night in the theatre.

Based upon the novel Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon Oscar Hammerstein wrote the book for the show plus the lyrics while Richard Rodgers wrote the music and with a score consisting of “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, “Hello Young Lovers”, “We Kiss in a Shadow”, “Getting to Know You”, “A Puzzlement”, “I Have Dreamed” and “Something Wonderful” along with 8 other songs making this is definitely one of their best scores. Put in the ballet “The Small House of Uncle Thomas” and you have just one more jaw dropping part of a show that will make you laugh and, yes, bring tears to your eyes. Oh wait I can’t forget “The March of the Siamese Children” that will have you being charmed by the children.

Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional and tempestuous relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a British schoolteacher whom the modernist King, in an inperialistic world, brings to Siam to teach his many wives and children.

Laura Michelle Kelley plays a strong Anna with a beguiling voice that just pulls you into her corner and Jose Llana is sly, funny, smart and an equal match for his co-star. Q Lim and Kavin Panmeechao, as the young lovers Tuptim and Lun Tha, bring tenderness and sadness in their duets of “We Kiss in a Shadow” and “I Have Dreamed”. I gather from the Paybill biographies this is Miss Lim’s National tour debut as part of the ensemble and is the understudy for the role of Tuptim. I am not sure if this was her first time doing the role but if it was you would never have known. Her narrating the ballet sequence was fierce and her performance moving. In addition to the strong performances and singing already mentioned Joan Almedilla as Lady Thiang, the eldest of the wives, sings “Something Wonderful” explaining the man she is married to with such tenderness and strength she moves not only Anna but every member of the audience.

“The King and I” is the last show of the Miami 2016-2017 season and ends it on a very high note.

For anyone living outside the South Florida area I suggest you go to the web site to see when it is coming to your city and get tickets now!

For those living in the Miami-Dade/Broward county area call 305-949-6722 or go to the  site and get any tickets available between today and Sunday, May 14—a great Mother’s Day present!

The running time is 2 hours and 54 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.


Posted May 10, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, REVIEWS, THEATRE, THEATRE REVIEW

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